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Five TV series that will help you speak French like the locals

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Five TV series that will help you speak French like the locals
Photo: APF
13:58 CEST+02:00
Obviously studying the grammar cannot be avoided if you are learning French - but there are some more fun ways to expand your vocabulary and one of them is watching French TV. Here's our pick of the best series for language learners.

French telly has over the years earned itself a bit of a reputation for being dull and unimaginative, but with the arrival of Netflix in France there are some great original series being made for the streaming service. Here's our pick of some of the best shows that will offer you an insight into French culture, teach you some new vocabulary and also give you a good laugh.

1. Dix pour cent

What's it about?

The series follows the work, life and loves of agents at talent agency ASK. It's a fast-paced comedy and each episode features a cameo from a French star of stage, screen or internet so it functions as a crash course on the rich and famous of France. It's genuinely hilarious and the stars who feature - big names all - are not afraid to laugh at themselves, so you will witness Monica Bellucci hitting on all the young men in Paris and Jean Dujardin going 'full Day-Lewis' before gnawing the head off a live rabbit.

What will I learn?

There's some industry-specific language so if you're after a career in French TV or cinema this is definitely one for you, but there's also lots of the day-to-day phrases and slang used by the trendy Paris set (which this lot definitely are). As a bonus, you'll also learn which English phrases you can pepper your conversation with to make you sound with-it, and there are a few secret romances too, so your langue d’amour will be top-notch after 18 episodes.

2. Family Business 

What's it about?

Hitting streaming services this summer, Netflix have served up an easy-to-watch Parisian comedy in Family Business. After learning that cannabis is set to be legalised in France, a Jewish family set about turning their kosher butchers into a soon-to-be-legal marijuana shop. Cleverly placed comedy lies around every corner with impromptu trips to Amsterdam, new police neighbours and countless family secrets that just can't stay under wraps. 

What will I learn?

As informal and chatty as comedies come, the Hazan family and friends don’t hold back from calling everyone their “frère” or their “mec” one minute to having full-blown family arguments the next. Coming from the less well-off end of Parisian society, you'll hear lots of Verlan plus coarse phrases that get straight to the point in a series that's great for colloquial French. Plus they all speak super-fast so it's a real workout for your language skills.

3. Plan Coeur 

What's it about?

There's something incredibly Bridget Jones-esque about The Hook Up Plan. The rom-com series sees a heartbroken Elsa struggling to get over her ex-boyfriend. As all good friends do, her best mates decide to hire an escort boy to play a new love interest and get her out of her funk. Full of quirky characters and face-palm moments, you won't be sure whether to cry laughing of squirm of awkwardness in this not-so-graceful love story. 

What will I learn?

If you're planning on making a few conquests in France, this one is for you. With a lot of courting and dating between Elsa and Jules, Plan Coeur is perfect for picking up all the phrases you might need in a romantic situation. The episodes are all pretty straightforward too, without too much fast-paced talking so this is a great one to get started on. 

4. Osmosis 

What's it about?

If you're up for a challenge and into sci-fi, Osmosis could be a great option. Slightly hard-to-grasp at first, it follows a new French technology that aims to match people with their soul mates. Sort of a French version of Black Mirror, the daring technology will make you think, but the series is worth the testing first two episodes. With drama and high emotions around every corner, this pioneering sci-fi series is an intriguing watch. 

What will I learn?

As you can imagine with cutting-edge, love-creating, human-bonding technology, some of the language in Osmosis can be pretty scientific. There’s a lot of talk about how the mind works, emotions and communication too which can leave you with some handy titbits. There's a real mix of people from all walks of life, from schizophrenic teenagers and worried mums to science geniuses and shy young women, Osmosis is a great series to diversify your French. 

5. Marseille

What's it about?

The first-ever French-language original produced by Netflix, Marseille tracks the city’s mayor of 20 years (played by Gérard Depardieu) as he locks horns with former student turned political rival. It's a potboiler with sex, scandal, plotting and definitely no resemblance at all to certain well-known names on the French political scene. Despite the plot, there's nothing too political or challenging about the series - a fun soap opera, Marseille is great to kill some time whilst picking up some French.

What will I learn?

There's not too much politics jargon in here but a few characters (especially those from the banlieue) will give you a crash course in southern French slang and a couple of characters have the famously difficult-to-follow Marseille accent so it's a good introduction if you're planning a visit.

With quite a few X-rated scenes you could also learn some more… specific vocabulary.  

 

 

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PTB - 24 Jul 2019 21:12
Pity they missed out the great policiers the a French produce like Section de Recherches and the wonderful Candice Renoir, both Set in the south of France. Then there’s the 18th Century détective Nicolas Le Floch, great fun oto
StooklyB - 06 Aug 2019 00:45
Come on, I just started watching Plan Cœur; in no way is it a 'good one to get started with'. I mean none of these are for beginners, that's for sure! I think an easier one is fais-pas ci fais ça. But if you are really starting out with French I'd recommend Peppa Pig!
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